Puerto Rico Open 2023: Nico Echavarria wins

Puerto Rico Open 2023: Nico Echavarria wins

PGA Tour Rookie Nico Echavarria Plays Solid Sunday Golf to Win Puerto Rico Open

Nico Echavarria came to play on Sunday at the Puerto Rico Open 2023, starting the day with a two-shot lead and looking for his first PGA Tour title, the Colombian began his day at Grand Reserve with two birdies then had a clean back nine with three more birdies to win the tournament by two strokes at a 21-under 267.

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The win snapped a streak of four missed cuts in a row and was also the first top-10 of his career; his previous best was 12th at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January.

“I’m happy with life right now,” Echavarria said. “After missing four cuts in a row, only making two cuts, you just doubt yourself. I’m very grateful I kept pushing and got it done.”

Since the tournament was a secondary event going against the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the win doesn’t come with a berth into the Masters and awards just 300 FedEx Cup points instead of the typical 500. The victory, however, does prove beneficial because it moved Echavarria from 144th in FedEx Cup points to 40th, putting him in position to reach the playoffs later this season.

He also gets a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour along with berths into the PGA Championship and this coming week’s Players Championship. Echavarria currently makes his home close to TPC Sawgrass, so he’s overjoyed that he will be among those competing.

“I’m glad I got my spot there,” Echavarria said.

The rookie becomes the third Colombian-born player to win on the PGA Tour. The other two are Sebastian Munoz and Camilo Villegas. The latter was also entered in this tournament and stayed after his round to celebrate with the latest winner from the country, joining family and friends in soaking him with champagne.

Echavarria said that Villegas let him a voice message Saturday saying that there will be a moment on Sunday where he feels like the tournament is slipping away, but to remain calm and focused when it happens.

“I was able to keep it together in a stressful moment. I’m grateful he mentored me in that way,” Echavarria explained.

Thanks to a 65 on Sunday, Korn Ferry Tour player Akshay Bhatia moved into the runner-up spot at -19 and also earned a spot into The Players Championship. Pre-tournament favorite Nate Lashley wound up in a tie for third place with Carson Young. Michael Kim was fifth at -15, Wesley Bryan laced sixth at -14, and there was a four-way tie for seventh among Cody Gribble, John VanDerLaan, Harry Higgs, and Harry Hall.

Ryan Gerard, who played his way into this event after a fourth place at The Honda Classic the week before, took advantage of his opportunity and finished a respectable 11th, tied with Bill Haas, Tano Goya, and Geoff Ogilvy.

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Echavarria and Bhatia will be among at least 30 golfers who will be teeing it up for the first time at The Players Championship. Overall, 49 of the top 50 in the FedEx Cup points list will be participating along with 43 of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

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